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Column by Scott Green

Manga Spotlight: Basilisk
The Kouga Ninja Scrolls
By Masaki Segawa
Based on novel by Futaro Yamada

Volume 1 Released by Del Rey

10 years the later, the Ninja Scroll reputation has probably become a bit detached from the work itself. It would seem that it was a case where the shock of seeing something of its character lead to a reputation that outstripped what it actually delivered. In Japan, audiences that hasdalready seen a host of Yoshiaki Kawajiri style movies weren't wowed by the feature, and despite his reputed pipeline (a second Ninja Scroll, a Highlander anime), the call for his Madhouse style works have has slight in recent years. Still the movie left its imprint in the North American anime fan psyche. If there's a work that deserves an association with Ninja Scroll, it's Basilisk, which plays the same mythology games with the same time period. Bonus points for a plot that actually involves a "ninja scroll". For extra ties, Ninja Scroll's Kouga ninja Kagero appears in Basilisk and both that movie and this series use the Tokugawa's power consolidation as the Toyotomi clan as a backdrop.

For fans of the genre, except maybe those who restrict their reading to the quasi-realistic stuff (such as Vagabond or Kazuo Koike's work) rather than the mad-history end, Basilisk is a giddy jackpot. It establishes that it means business in the first scene with a role call of the heavy hitters. Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan for two and half centuries (depicted here with a disturbingly scrotal chin), along with sword instructor Yagyu Munenori (father of Jubei) and the second chief ninja Hanzo Hattori ponder a exhibition battle between representatives of the feuding Iga and Kouga ninja clans. Yashamaru of the Iga opens by slicing through rock pillars with strands of wire-woven hair. Spider-like Shougen Kazamachi of the Kouga initially responds by covering, but then spits a gob of glue like phlegm and returns the offensive.

The demonstration inspires Tokugawa to use the clans' feud to settle his political troubles. The question of his succession will be decided by nullifying the peace treaty between the clans and signing the ninja scroll. Each clan is sponsored by one of the two sons with the prospect of becoming the next shogun. The names 10 elite members of each clan are entered. The clan whose surviving members can return the scroll to the shogun's castle in the proscribed time will is promised a rule for a 1000 years.

Amoung the names are Oboro of the Iga and Gennosuke of the Kouga, the young heirs of the two clans. Not for the first time, these representatives are in love and offer the two clans a chance at peace. Yet, this pattern didn't stop the male elder of the Kougo and female elder of the Iga, former lovers, from being the first to kill each other in this conflict.

Basilisk is marked by an animated look, especially by its digital inking. The application for the process range effect every aspect of the manga's visual presentation from motion blurs in the action, to altered foreground/background focus for scene depth, to filtered photography for background and pattern mapping for clothing. The results are new, different, and effective for telling this brand of rapid action story. Though, because it boosts the impact of the images, it draws attention to flaws. There are a few cases of perspective problems, with characters looking shrunken.

The plot has potential to be more interesting than an action freak show. As endearing as limbless a snake-person who flings blades with his tongue can be, the more cognizant twist on Romeo and Juliet seems like it could offer more. Here the young lovers know, or should know, what're getting into. They are trained and should be able to deal with the problem analytically as well as emotionally. Yet for the first volume, the series has been strange people slaughtering each other. And so far, they have very productive in doing that. Consequently, the relationships and politics have been perfunctory. It's an exciting and entertaining experience, but a hollow one. Once you've seen what it has to offer, the rewards diminish greatly.


Manga Spotlight: Chibi Vampire
by Yuna Kagesaki

Volume 1
Released by TOKYOPOP

Many observers have pointed out that vampire stories have a strong tendency to either be introspective gothic or ultra-cool. Which makes Chibi Vampire , a relationship comedy/drama about a frantically embarrassed school girl/'reverse vampire', a bit different. 'Chibi' is a term for small and cute. It's a Japanese word widely known and adopted by fandom, but it makes for a quirky title, especially given that the series was releases in Japan as 'Karin', the name of its lead character. (also strange, the book was printed in the right to left format, but the cover was on left to right).

200 years ago the Maker vampire family came to Japan. The patriarch Henry Marker looks like a classic European aristocrat, but is a gushing sentimentalist. His wife Calera is domineeringly upper crust. Their children have the altered family name 'Maaka'. Eldest brother Ren uses his good looks and vampire charm to spend most of his time with young women. Middle child Karin is the family's ' vampire in reverse'. And the youngest daughter Anju dresses loli-goth and insists on talking through a doll, but has already begun exhibiting her vampire powers.

Karen has the look and personality of a sweet, emotional young teen. Her enormous eyes, framed by equally belief defying, almost bat-wing shaped bangs broadcast her feelings like a lighthouse, and generally these emotions teeter on panic. She's embarrassed in her home and school life because she's a vampire who produces huge amounts of blood, that she periodically has to relief herself of by biting and feeding into humans. Her mother isn't too fond of having a daughter who's awake during the day, goes to school and can't drink blood like a proper vampire should. To that end she's in the habit of dumping on her daughter and hitting her with slippers. In school, she's awkward, clumsy and is occasionally gushing Kubrick quantities of blood out her nose (in the visual nomenclature of anime/manga nose bleeds tend to signal sexual arousal).

Her social anxiety is complicated by handsome transfer student Kenta. First she stumbles on him and ends up with his face up her skirt. Then, he sees her giving blood to a man in the park and assumes she's prostituting herself. Then she does a full blood gush onto him. Her brother takes her aside and explains that vampires have strong blood preferences. He prefers the blood of stressed people. Their mother prefers the blood of liars. Karin should figure out that about Kenta is turning her on.

The series is a shonen relationship comedy, but one that's exceptionally close to the shoujo line. Karin's clumsy physicality and spring tightened emotions mirror the familiar components of shoujo heroines. But round cuteness and bosomy sexuality point to a shonen appeal, as do the micro skirts and accidental sexual contact. As does it is origin in "Comic Dragon Age", the anthology that the held some of the manga versions of Tenchi Muyo and Slayers. While there's cross gender appeal in the work, the designed appeal is less about being involved in Karin's emotional spikes and more about seeing a girl who the manga reader can imagine to have a high pitched voice, squee-ing and blushing.


Anime Spotlight: Kamichu Volume 1: Little Deity

Released by Geneon

Kamichu is a gentle, brightly animated series set in a mundane world whose inhabitants are comfortable and credulous with a spiritual world, even if it's one they can't see. Following a Shinto cosmology, it opens with junior high student Yurie announcing that overnight she became a kami or god. A shy-ish, unexceptional girl, she isn't a very awe inspiring deity, but she is rather powerful, summoning a typhoon in an early test of her abilities. Once she's correct her mistakes, she tries to be helpful, listening to people's wishes and doing her best to grant them.

The creators of Read or Die, Koji Masunari and Hideyuki Kurata bring the same sort of imaginative oddity to this work that they did selling paper as a world-beater super power in ROD. In this cases, the intricacy and visual flare is trained on a cute and sweet spirit world that, at most times, is oblivious to the hassles of human world. Yurie's wish collating administrative staff, for example: a boar, a buck and a butterfly who arrive with a little dance are enormously darling.

The anime offers some interesting and amusing views of Animism. Except for Yurie and a young shrine maiden, the other characters can't see the active spirit world around them in which a blink or change in perspective reveals a busy ecosystem of rock spirits, water spirits and the like. The complexity of this world is even stranger when Yurie steps into the full spirit world and sees sights like the gods of obsolete disc media formats sitting around kvetching.

In that the series follows a helpful kid experiencing the world through a magical point of contact, it bears a resemblance to Miyazaki/Ghibli work. Except, the series wasn't originally aimed at younger viewed. The manga was serialized in Comic Dengeki Daioh, a seinen anthology which featured, relevant to this discussion Azumanga Daioh, Yotsuba, and Ichigo Mashimaro. The hook to the series is emotional nostalgia. Audiences aren't supposed to identify with Yurie as a contemporary or a role model. Yurie's ability to solve problems with instinct and empathy, in which once the right thing to do is determined, the force of the universe will make it happens is an appeal to older viewers who have became a bit cynical about the world and hope to be able to view the it with an innocent might.

At least in these first four episodes it's willfully naive to almost a cheating extent. Love and good intentions win the day as Yurie gets to have her cake and eat it too. Consequences that are spelled out are washed away as well meaning actions change the rules. While a series that really was for younger audiences might have a more immediately colorful heroine, KamiChu is for those who would still like to see bursting rainbows appear to wash away the world's problems.

Though there is this tendency to be emotionally retrograde, it tends to be sincere as well. Given the situations presented, moe pandering is minimal. Instead, it's more like Yotsuba, a child's story aimed for people who want to look back on their childhood, or in this case, people who want to remember when they thought that their generation's good intentions will solve the world's woes..

You can feel comfortable showing the series to a younger audience, to the extend that the 13+ rating is hard to grasp (it would nice if these rating were explained), but it's not just a kids show that sends a few jokes over a younger audience's head.

Another factor to be aware of is that Kamichu is an especially culturally immersed work. Not just the pop culture references to "you're already dead", but the fundamentals of Shinto and even the Japanese constitution are needed to pull everything out of the series.


Anime Spotlight: Teknoman
Collection One (episodes 1-14)

Released by Media Blaster's Anime Works

Teknoman is the name of the Saban adapted English translation version of Tekkaman Blade. Media Blasters' Anime Works will be released both the original and Tekkaman separately, due to content differences. The Japanese audio original is planned for later in the year. A 43 episode version of the complete series aired in Australia (the original run 49), but the series only made it 26 episodes in North America before being cancelled, so for many, either first marks the first time they can follow the whole story of the potentially familiar series.

The early 90's series Tekkaman Blade was a remake of the mid 70's Space Night Tekkaman, a series that did receive some exposure and earned a cult following. Conceived by Tatsuo Yoshida, the series follows the studio Tatsunoko tradition of combining the concepts of American Super-heroes with anime. The formula has been applied to a range of subgenres in works ranging from Gatchaman to the recent Karas.

Teknoman applies the formula to an anime style sci-fi epic. Earth is badly losing its war against invading swarms of Venemoid spider-alien bugs. Among their conquests, the creatures are maintaining an infestation of the Space-Ring, an artificial construction circling the Earth. When they're not using the structure to produced hordes of attackers, they're using it to bombard Earth with lasers.

One of the Earth's thin lines of defense is the Space Knighst, a nebulously defined, quasi-governmental, non-military group, with that looks the rare Earth-to-space capabilities. Collecting samples of the strange growths that began appearing with the spider-aliens, the Space Knights cross paths with a strange figure in red and white armor that is actually winning in an engagement with the spider-crabs. The figure links up with them and reveals himself to be a scarred young man with few memories who goes by the name Blade.

The super hero side of the coin is the transformation of a teen into a powerful being, able to save the world. The Teknoman/Tekkman armor itself is a striking design from Yoshinori Sayama, who went on to create the sleek forms of Rahxephon (as well as mechanical design for Char's Counter Attack and Patlabor). It's look is a sharp angled, mecha take of the mask and contrasting colors of a traditional hero costume. The action emphasizes force as in runs across surfaces in low gravity, dashing through monsters, and almost in a Go Nagai-mecha nod, attacks with its spinning staff.

On the anime side, it's the brand of anime serial that addictively builds from episode one. If you started anime with Star Blazers, Teknoman encompasses everything that set anime apart from American cartoons, with its attention to story and serious treatment of characters.

Though it tends not to employ cliff hangers, there's a tight episode to episode continuity. All the action and conversation build on each other. Within the enable cast, characters remember what is said. There's actual tension to see how characters will follow through with action's they'd previously indicated.

The bug invasion story is made engaging by this attention to establishing an evolving conflict. Though the series doesn't approach the details of a work like Crest of the Stars its detailed strategies, the series scope encompass the flow of an evolving conflict with the two sides pursing campaigns with clear strategic objectives. The thurst of each episode is logically fit into this context. Rather than a threat of the week, the events are died into a larger conflict, but one that the viewer is given all the needed information to follow.

A key tenant to Teknoman, as its characters and conflict are built is sacrifice. It's follow a fight secret or ignorable war, or one in which they are the only combatants. They are a piece of a larger effort and they see the cost of war up close. Though the situations occationally get a bit imporbably to heightened the drama, when a play begins going wrong or an enemy attack rushes in, there is tension that snaps tight. And, though the sacrifice, toned down in the adaptation, and very obviously toned down, its very clear that there's some deaths cut out, the point is still effectively conveyed in this version.

Near uniformaly, the voice work in the series is either good, or very good (there is a little singing that's hard to deal with). The translation seems flawed, but well done enough that the strength of the series are maintained. Some of the troubles seem like they were introduced in the translations, but may have been from the original.

Given the continuity, careless comments in the script stick out. Characters mention names that they could know, but probably should not. Exposition seems to be missing. For example, the Space Knight's atmosphere leaping ship starts out without weapons, and the characters explicitly point this out, but then several episodes in they make a point of outfitting it with weapons. Why a ship that went into war zones didn't have weapons, then did, went unexplained.

It seems that some of the gaffs with character logic would be attributable to uncareful translation. The lead's developing opinion on the war looks more jagged than was designed. In the early episodes his arguments aren't consistent, except that he's consistently contrarian. In one episode he's a utilitarian who sees his key value in the war effort, the next he's eager to nobly sacrifice himself

In terms of groan inducing dialog, there are cases where the series does fall victem to the localization plague of wise cracks; streams where every line has tries to be funny, and none are. This really only happens when Blade is Tekchnoman. Character names are a bit goofy, there's hot shot pilot named Ringo and with his navigator Star, but on the other hand, in the Japanese Blade went by the silly to the English ear "D-Boy".

Gedo Senki Update

Nausicaa.netreports as of May 15th the status of Studio Ghibli's Earthsea adapation Gedo Senki is athe following state:

The May 15 production diary reports the latest progress:
Key animation: completed
Key animation check: completed
Animation: 1,233 (99.8%) cuts
Animation check: 1,223 (98.9%) cuts
Background painting: completed
Effects: 1,191 (96.4%) cuts

A second trailer for the movie is online here

Miyazaki with Moebius

SameHatpoints out this this small sitefeauting an exhibit of the works of Hayao Miyazki and French artist Moebius. Pictures of the associated art book are, available here. The blog almost mentions rumors that Miyazaki's last work will be an adapation of Moebius'Azrak.

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles screens at Cannes

Harmony Gold has announced that the feature-length animated film Robotech: The Shadow screened at the Cannes Film Market on Monday May 22nd. This marks the first time the film has been shown in its entirety outside of Harmony Gold. More information about the film is expected to be available soon as the anime convention season heats up



© Harmony Gold USA, Inc.

Media Blasters/Anime Works Schedule Updates

Kirameki Project Vol. 1, has been moved to 10/31
Kirameki Project Vol. 2, has been moved to 11/21

The RIKI-OH Animation has been cancelled due to license issues.

The current schedule is

6/27/06
Green Green - Coed Casualties (Volume 1 of 3, Episodes 1-4)
Galaxy High School (Volume 1 of 2, Episodes 1-7)

7/11/06
Gokusen Economy Pack (Volumes 1-3, Episodes 1-13)
Ah! My Goddess Volume 6 "Last Dance" (Episodes 23-26)

7/12/06
Eiken V (Manga)

7/25/06
Teknoman - Collection Two (Volume 2 of 3, Episodes 15-29)
Galaxy High School (Volume 2 of 2, Episodes 8-13)
Giant Robo Economy Pack (Volumes 1-3, includes GINREI SPECIAL)

8/15/06
Grenadier Premium Collection
Tatoon Master

8/16/06
Eiken VI (Manga)

8/29/06
Green Green - "Nature Girls" (Volume 2 of 3, Episodes 5-8)
Gaogaigar - King of Braves (Volume 1)
Gaogaigar - King of Braves - Premium Box with Volume 1

9/12/06
Teknoman - Collection Three (Volume 3 of 3, Episodes 30-?)>
Shura No Toki - Economy Pack (Volumes 1-6)

9/13/06
Twin Signal 1 (Manga)

9/26/06
Voltron: Defender Of The Universe Volume 1
If I See You In My Dreams - Economy Pack

10/10/06
Green Green - "Nature Girls" (Volume 3 of 3, Episodes 9-12)
Gaogaigar - King of Braves (Volume 2)

10/31/06
Kirameki Project - "Robot Girls" (Volume 1 of 2, Episodes 1-3)
Midori Days Economy Pack (Volumes 1-3)

11/7/06
Otogi Zoshi Economy Pack (Volumes 1-6)

11/21/06
Voltron: Defender Of The Universe Volume 2

CPM in Distribution Deal

CPM has announced a distribution deal with Consortium Book Sales & Distribution for its manga releases. The Book Standard has more information here.

Crouching Tiger/Hero producer on Blood

Variety reports Bill King, the producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero will work with Ronny Yu on a live action adaptation of Blood: The Last vampire. The movie will be dominantly in English, with other languages used. The story follows an undercover vampire hunter who discovers that two of her best friends are fiends was previously filmed as an animated movie by Japan's Production I.G. helmed by Hiroyuko Kitabuko. Production I.G. has since released a spinoff comic "Blood: The Last Vampire 2002" and has announced a TV series.

Upcoming Collection releases

CPM will released the 13 episode Shadow Star Narutaru on July 25th for $49.95

Wrath of the Ninja/Yotoden will be on August 8th for $24.98

The Armored Trooper VOTOMS DVD Collection, with a "metal ammo can", will be released on August 8th for $149.95. The third collection, God Planet Quent will also be released for $34.95.

Acorrding to Anime on DVD, Geneon has the following releases lined up:

7/18
Captain Herlock, Space Pirate Box Set $44.98
Dokkoida!? Box Set $59.98
Hanaukyo Main Team La Verite Box Set $59.98
New Getter Robo Box Set $69.98

8/1
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Box Set $59.98
Hellsing Signature Series Box Set
Jubei Chan 2 Box Set $89.98

8/8
Star Ocean EX Box Set $89.98

ADV will releasing thing pack collections of Cromartie High and Chance Pop Session on August 1st and 8th respectively for $44.98 each.

Anime on TV

Cartoon Network will be airing Pokemon Chronicles Saturdays starting June 3rd.

4Kids' fall TV lineup will be
Majical Doremi
Bratz
Winx Club
Viva Pinata
Chaotic
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward
Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters
G.I. Joe

DMP Spat

ComicsWorthReading points out that Comics 212, a comics blog with a positive track of cover manga including yaoi received a cease and desist from Digital Manga Publusgubg (DMP) when the blog posted a commentating on the danger of a publishing yaoi comics about homsexuals, particularly those with younger characters. DMP objected to Christopher Butcher's read of Almost Crying and threatened legal action if the site did not remove a cover image of the manga. See herefor DMP's demands and Comics 212's response.

Fall CMX Manga Premieres

CMX will begin their release of popular romance manga Emma on September 20th. Train man will begin October 11th, and Penquin Revolution of the 25th of the month.

North American 10th Anniversary Ed. Evangelion

To celebrete Neon Genesis Evangelion's 10th anniversary, ADV will be releasing a new collection of the series. Accoding to Diamond Comicsthe $250 collection will feature a "a deluxe case and a plethora of commemorative items.

Interviews

Viz's PR director Evelyn Dubocq talks about online piracy with Active Anime here.

Del Rey translator David Ury talks to Ikimashou here

Cromartie Manga Ending

MangaNewsreports Cromartie High School will end in Weekly Shounen Magazine No. 25 (on sale 5/24). Creator Eiji Nonaka has said he's bored with the title.

Dark Horse Unveal Shirow Plans

Dark Horse's Japanese licensing manager Michael Gombos has posted a piecelaying out the company's plans to re-release the manga works of Ghost in the Shell creator Masamune Shirow in the original right to left format.

October 2006
Appleseed Hypernote(first collected version), which includes short strips and technical specs

December 2006
Appleseed ID (Illustrations/Data)

January 2007
Dominion

February 2007
Dominion Conflict

March 2007
Orion

April 22007
Black Magic

The four volume main Appleseed manga will be released monthly in 2007.

Also, regarding Hellsing

Hellsing is serialized in Shonen-Gahosha's Young King Ours Magazine, along with a lot of other great titles (Trigun comes straight to mind). Over the past year or so, Matt and I have received countless e-mails asking why we're taking so long in putting out volumes #8 and #9, that people have seen the volumes in their Japanese and scanlated forms on the net, and wondering about Hellsing: The Dawn. We hear, "We know these exist! What's taking so long!? Get to work!"

Indeed, although I haven't looked at it myself, we are aware that scanlated (i.e., unlicensed, illegal) versions of Hellsing #8 and #9 are available online. These were not taken from the Japanese TPBs, as they don't exist yet. They were most likely taken from Young King Ours, scanned/translated, and then uploaded. So, until volumes #8 and #9 (and Hellsing: The Dawn) are available in TPB form in Japan, we might have to slake our thirst for blood elsewhere.

We appreciate your patience and understanding while we, too, wait for the Japanese versions to be released, so we can bring them to the English world.

According to Anime on DVD'sAnime Central convention report, Dark Horse will be releasing the Samurai Champloo Roman Album in November 2006. The Dirty Pair novels will be released in July 2007.

Animal Crossing Movie Promo

AnimeNationhere

Geneon Licenses Second Kyo Kara Maoh

Geneon Entertainment,, announced that it has acquired the North American merchandising, television and home entertainment rights to the second season of the popular anime series from Sogovision Inc., Kyo Kara Maoh! God (?) Save Our King!. A comic adventure based on the best-selling Japanese novels (over 2 million copies sold), the first season of Kyo Kara Maoh! God (?) Save Our King! quickly became a fan favorite, and is still gaining popularity due to its hilarious and absurdist take on the fantasy genre, told through the eyes of an average high school student who becomes ruler of the Great Demon Kingdom… after being flushed down the toilet by bullies. Picking up at the first season's nail-biting cliffhanger, the second season of Kyo Kara Maoh! God (?) Save Our King! follows the unlikely king on his continuing journey through the world of fantasy. The second season's 39 episodes will begin releasing on DVD in November, timed for a smooth continuation from the first season, the final volume of which is due September 5 from Geneon Entertainment.

Synopsis:
At the end of the first season, Yuri finally finds Conrad, but he is with Big Cimaron, a human country ruled by a greedy king. Yuri is shocked, but he has to continue his duty as a Demon King. The Part Two storyline will focus on Yuri and his team's effort to find and collect all the Four Forbidden Boxes in which the evil Originator had been sealed.

Mech Designer Izabuchi At Anime Expo

Anime Expo 2006 (AX2006) and Bandai Visual USA announces the attendance of Yutaka Izabuchi to the 15th year anniversary convention at the Anaheim Convention Center July 1-4, 2006. More information is available at http://www.anime-expo.org

Mr. Izubuchi's debut into the world of animation started with his role as a contributing designer to the TV series Tosho DAIMOS (1978). He rose to the position of main mechanical designer in Mobile Suit GUNDAM - Char's Counterattack (1988) and Mobile Suit GUNDAM 0080 - War in the Pocket (1989). In other notable works, Izubuchi was the original character designer for the OVA series Record of Lodoss War (1990), while on RahXephon (2002) he worked as director, thus adding to his already prolific resume. He is the Mechanical Director for the Banda Visual USA Release of PATLABOR THE MOVIE (official site: www.bandaivisual.us/patlabor/).

Mr. Izabuchi joins, previously announced, CLAMP, Seiji Mizushima, Vic Mignogna, Laura Bailey and Mick Takeuchi as Anime Expo 2006 official Guests of Honor.

TOKYOPOP Becomes Media Partner to PLAY! A Video Game Symphony

PLAY! A Video Game Symphony is a symphony world-tour featuring music from blockbuster video games, performed by some of the finest world-class orchestras and choirs, and accompanied by bigscreen videogame graphics. Launching in Chicago on May 27, 2006, the world premiere of PLAY! A Video Game Symphony already promises to become one of the biggest video game music celebrations in history, with music legends Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo, Yasunori Mitsuda, Akira Yamaoka, Yuzo Koshiro, Jeremy Soule, Jason Hayes and Marty O'Donnell in attendance.
For More Information: Visit www.play-symphony.com and www.tokyopop.com

Viz Media Announces The First Anniversary Issue Of Shojo Beat Magazine

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced content for the July 2006 issue of SHOJO BEAT magazine, which goes on sale nationwide on June 20. This edition marks the first anniversary for the dynamic publication aimed at the growing number of shojo manga fans in North America. This demographic is now one of the fastest growing segments in the manga publishing industry.

Debuting in this special issue will be VAMPIRE KNIGHT, a new romantic fantasy series by Matsuri Hino, the creator of the popular title MERUPURI, which is also offered as a dedicated graphic novel by VIZ Media's SHOJO BEAT imprint. Hino is also set to make a rare appearance as a guest of VIZ Media at the 2006 Comic-Con in San Diego, July 20-23. The July 2006 issue will be the first SHOJO BEAT issue to have manga with color ink tones (cyan and magenta) – the first for any domestic manga anthology publication. The contrast will be visually compelling and will closely mirror the format of many Japanese manga anthology counterparts. Also included in this anniversary issue will be an ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND pin-up poster by Yuu Watase, whose Drawing with Yuu tutorial series launches with this edition. This is further augmented by the second of three tutorial installments by manga titan Keiko Takemiya, who will continue to offer instructional techniques and advice to SHOJO BEAT readers and hopeful manga artists. An interview with J-Pop superstar HYDE and the first annual comprehensive manga quiz round out the issue.

Viz Talks Upcoming Releases

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media) has announced a wide array of new manga titles set to debut at the 2006 BookExpo America (BEA) show in Washington DC, May 19-21 at the Washington DC Convention Center. BEA is widely recognized as a leading gathering point for professionals who publish, sell and market books. VIZ Media will be located in Booth 2850.

For the 2006 BEA show, VIZ Media will preview a variety of highly anticipated new manga titles set to release in the Third Quarter in the action, fantasy and shôjo genres. Summaries for these titles follow below:

Naruto Anime Profiles • Msrp: $14.99 • Available July 2006>br? Shonen Jump's NARUTO has become a top-rated favorite on Cartoon Network and the manga (graphic novel) series, also published by VIZ Media in both SHONEN JUMP magazine and in graphic novel format, consistently ranks as a top seller on several national literary sales charts. The NARUTO ANIME PROFILES book serves as a comprehensive addendum to the series about young ninjas in training, detailing anime episodes 1-37. A variety of original illustrations and production art by series creator Masashi Kishimoto are featured as well as answers to popular questions. A must-have for any real fan of the NARUTO anime series!

Buso Renkin, Vol. 1• Msrp: $7.99 • Available August 2006
BUSO RENKIN is the next big series from Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of RUROUNI KENSHIN, which is one of the best selling SHONEN JUMP manga series. Buso Renkin is the story of teenager Kazuki Muto, who dies trying to save a girl who was being attacked by an eerie monster. The next morning, however, Kazuki is left wondering whether it was all a dream. Lo and behold, the girl, the monster, and his death are all real! The girl, Tokiko Tsumura, was actually trying to slay the homunculus, but Kazuki got in her way. To revive Kazuki, Tokiko replaces his heart with a "kakugane," an alchemic device that allows him to summon a lance with which to fight the monsters. It turns out that Tokiko is a member of the Alchemist Warriors, an organization sworn to protect the world from the diabolical creatures. Soon, Kazuki joins Tokiko in her quest to terminate the sinister being that creates and controls the homunculus. BUSO RENKIN was originally serialized in the Japanese version of SHONEN JUMP and has sold a total of over 3 million copies to-date in Japan.

The Law Of Ueki, Vol. 1 • Msrp: $9.99 • Available August 2006
Ueki is an average junior high student who has the power to change trash into trees. This power was granted to him by Mr. Kobayashi so that Ueki can participate in the "Battle of the Supernatural Powers." If Ueki wins, Kobayashi becomes the new King of the Celestial World while Ueki will receive the "Talent of Blank," allowing him to choose whatever talent he desires. However, the battle will not be easy since he will have to face many unsavory opponents who also want the "Talent of Blank" for their own selfish reasons. Ueki will undergo many trials and sacrifices in order to win the battle and prevent the "Talent of Blank" from falling into the wrong hands. A unique story by Tsubasa Fukuchi with an environmentally aware subplot, THE LAW OF UEKI was also turned into a popular anime series.

Princess Mononoke Film Comics, Vol. 1 • Msrp: $9.99
• Available September 2006
Set in the Japanese countryside during the lawless and chaotic Muromachi Period, PRINCESS MONONOKE is anime visionary Hayao Miyazaki's imaginative story of a young man's quest to reconcile the powerful forces of human civilization and industry with the need to live harmoniously in the natural world. The story revolves around a prince who is infected with an incurable disease by a possessed boar/god. He will die unless he can find a cure to rid this curse from his body. When he arrives to get help from the deer god, he finds himself in the middle of a battle between the animal inhabitants of the forest and an iron mining town that is exploiting and killing the forest. Leading the forest animals in the battle is Princess Mononoke, a spunky young girl raised by wolves. Hayao Miyazaki is the most beloved animator in Japanese history and the creator of several successful films, including the 2002 Academy Award® winning SPIRITED AWAY, CASTLE IN THE SKY, PRINCESS MONONOKE (winner of the Japan Academy Award for Best Film release of 1997), MY


NEIGHBOR TOTORO and KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE. Whether working with comics or animation, Miyazaki's work is known for entertaining plots, compelling characters, and breathtaking art.

Train_Man: Densha Otoko • MSRP: $9.99 • Available October 2006
From Densha Otoko a story of a hopeless geek, a beautiful woman, and a fast connectionhow the heck do you talk to girls? What should he wear on their date? Where should they go? The forum's response was amazing, and the thread continued to grow along with their relationship. Eventually published in book format to become a best seller, the thread spawned a blockbuster movie and hit TV series, as well as this heartwarming manga adaptation of an entire Internet community rooting for love and romance.

Shojo Beat Manga Artist Academy • MSRP: $14.99 •
Available October 2006
For all of you who've ever dreamed of becoming a shôjo manga artist, this book is for you! Join Satomi Panda, whose only skill is her love of manga, as she embarks on a journey to manga stardom! Along the way, Satomi receives the help of many manga greats, including Yuu Watase (FUSHUGI YÛGI, ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND), Mayu Shinju (SENSUAL PHRASE), Rie Takada (HAPPY HUSTLE HIGH), and Chie Shinohara (RED RIVER).

Naruto (Novel): Innocent Heart, Demonic Blood • MSRP: $9.99 • Available November 2006
The first NARUTO novel to be released as part of VIZ Media's popular Shonen Jump Fiction imprint. Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja-in-training, is more interested in pranks than in studying ninjutsu, but he's determined to become the greatest ninja ever! Meet your favorite ninja all over again as Naruto's first adventures, from the Ninja Academy to the tragedy in the Land of Waves, are retold in vivid prose. There is also a bonus mini poster inserted in this novel.

Fullmetal Alchemist Anime Profiles • MSRP: $14.99 •
Available November 2006
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST began as a popular manga series in Japan and quickly exploded into a worldwide anime hit. In North America, FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST is a top-rated series on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block of programming. Now available for the first time in English, the FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST Anime Profiles guide will help fans keep track of their favorite episodes and cross-reference all the characters from the popular series. Combining actual cel artwork with summaries of all 51 television episodes, this handy archive of alchemy also contains exhaustive (and definitive) cast biographies, bonus artwork and production notes and a special full-color poster. Essential reading for all FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST maniacs!

Be With You (Novel) • MSRP: $17.99 • Available November 2006
When Takumi's wife suddenly returns from the grave, he can't believe his eyes. How could such a thing be possible? Is she here to stay? Has love miraculously triumphed over death? As Takumi starts looking for answers to these questions, he discovers the secret of his wife's appearance is somehow linked to the past, and the future. Back in 2003, Japanese readers fell in love with Ima Ainiyukimasu, Takuji Ichikawa's heartbreaking story of a couple's second chance at first love. The novel was so popular it inspired a blockbuster movie, a top-rated TV series and a best-selling manga. Now published in the U.S. as BE WITH YOU, Ichikawa's novel proves that love is a miracle that lasts a lifetime and beyond.

O-Parts Hunter, Vol. 1 • MSRP: $9.99 • Available December 2006
Originally ominously titled 666 Satan, O-PARTS HUNTER is a highly anticipated series by Seishi Kishimoto. In the not too distant future, mankind battles over relics from a lost civilization. These items, known as O-Parts, contain incredible powers if wielded by the right person. Enter Jio, a young boy with a tragic past who trusts only one thing in the world: money. Little does he suspect that inside him is the potential to use O-Parts like no one else can. Jio reluctantly teams up with a young girl named Ruby, and together they go on a quest to find as many O-Parts as the can. Will Jio help Ruby realize her dream of becoming a world class treasure hunter? Will Ruby help Jio realize his dream of world domination?

1 World Manga: Volume 4: Child Soldiers: Of Boys and Men
• MSRP: $3.99 • Available Fall 2006
Mercenaries kidnap our hero and force him to fight in an illegal army side by side with other children ripped from their homes and families. Struggling just to survive from one day to the next, will Rei be able to escape, let alone lead his fellow child soldiers safely to freedom?

Adv Launches This Ugly Yet Beautiful World July 4

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World: Falling Star
ADV is proud to announce the North American release of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World: Falling Star, the first volume in the new anime series from Studio Gainax (Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL), which will hit store shelves July 4.

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World is a showpiece for the pioneering anime studio on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. Enlivened by rich characters, gripping action, and the inventive animation that Gainax is known for, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World is a fitting celebration of the studio's legacy.

Synopsis: "There's nothing I can do to make a difference. Wars will be fought. People will die," Takeru said. "I'll never matter." He didn't know how wrong he was. Because Takeru has a very special place in this universe. And he doesn't know how special until he meets a beautiful girl who falls from the stars. Hikari seems to have no memory of who she is (or, for that matter, where her clothes are). So Takeru takes her into his care. And that's when things get nasty. For Hikari is not like other girls. Her name may mean "light", but she has a dark history—and an even darker future. One that will change Takeru and his friends forever, and show them all just how beautiful yet cruel this universe can be!

Gantz Season 2 Boxset
The Gantz Season 2 Box Set goes on sale everywhere July 4.
Directed by Ichiroh Itano and produced by GONZO Digimation (Chrono Crusade, Full Metal Panic!), Gantz is based on the ultra-violent, totally twisted manga series by Hiroya Oku (HEN, Zero One). If anything, the anime series surpasses its source material for sheer spectacle – so much so that it had to be heavily edited for broadcast on Japanese television. ADV Films has restored Gantz to its original, uncut form for its DVD release, much to people's surprise.

Synopsis: The fragile bonds that hold the survivors together are frayed to the breaking point, but in Gantz's game, survival is impossible without a warm body guarding your back. As the Gantz reaches into the "real" world and a fresh batch of resurrectees is offered up on the altar of slaughter, Kurono finds himself partnered with a new lady killer. If looks could kill, he'd already have died a second time, but will she be his salvation or his death? Get ready for the body count to go through the roof, because nothing has prepared you for the second season of Gantz!

The Gantz Season 2 Box Set (SRP $69.98 DVD) is an anamorphic DVD release including all 13 episodes of the series' second season, presented in both English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.

Cyberteam In Akihabara Complete Collection
The Entire 26 Episode Series In a Single Affordable Thin-Pack
Created by Juzo Mutsuki (Devil Hunter Yohko), directed by Yoshitaka Fujimoto (Nuku Nuku Dash!) and produced by Production I.G. (Ghost In the Shell), Cyberteam in Akihabara is a top-notch fantasy romp. "For fans who enjoy shows such as Angelic Layer or Sailor Moon" (J-Ent).

Synopsis: Like all girls her age, Hibari Hanakoganei covets the latest fashion in mechanical pets – a Pata-Pi to call her own! But when a strange White Prince provides one, she becomes the target of an equally mysterious Black Prince who plots to steal the prized pet. It's Pata-Pi Densuke to the rescue, however, transforming into a powerful Diva who bears a striking resemblance to Hibari herself! With astonishing battle agility, Densuke proves to be no ordinary child's toy! But Hibari is not the only one with a Pata-Pi of extraordinary powers, and despite an unlikely friendship, she joins forces with others to form the Cyber Team! Together they will solve the riddle of the Black Prince -- or will his flock of nefarious cohorts put an end to the dynamic divas of Akihabara?

Cyberteam In Akihabara Complete Collection (SRP $49.98 DVD) is a thin-pack DVD release including all 26 episodes presented in both English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.

FUNimation to Distribute TOKYOPOP's Anime

FUNimation Entertainment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navarre Corporation (Nasdaq: NAVR), today announced that it has acquired exclusive North American distribution rights for select titles in TOKYOPOP's home video catalogue.

Titles licensed to FUNimation include Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO), Marmalade Boy, Initial D and others. FUNimation plans to rework these titles with new packaging, new pricing and new configurations. The first product to release from this agreement is Street Fury Remixed, which will street on June 27 at retailers nationwide.

Games Previews

From The Magic Box:

Battle Stadium D.O.N., a game for the Playstation 2 and Gamecube, Powerstone/Smash Brothers type game with over 20 playable characters from Dragon Ball Z, One Piece and Naruto can be seen here

Sega's 3D action game Appleseed for PlayStation 2 will be released in September 2006 in Japan .

Manga Artist Rips Moe

Manga artist Mimei Sakamoto has expressed her outrage to Mainichi over the increasing percent of moe fans within Japan's geek culture. Moe is an almost fetishistic fascination with female innocence.

Readers Talkback
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  • May 22, 2006, 9:49 p.m. CST

    El Primero!

    by BeeDub

    Gotta go shave my huevos...

  • May 22, 2006, 9:49 p.m. CST

    First!For all your anime needs check out animepunch.org

    by Proman1984

    Anime rocks!

  • May 22, 2006, 9:50 p.m. CST

    When I said first I didn't actually mean myself.

    by Proman1984

    Just a small correction. Anyway, nice article.

  • May 22, 2006, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Fourth!

    by kevinwillis.net

    Am I right? Am I wrong? It doesn't matter, and yet it becomes addicting. Even worse, I don't care a speck about anime.

  • May 23, 2006, 12:06 a.m. CST

    Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters

    by KarmicRelief

    Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters = Pokemon with deeper voices

  • May 23, 2006, 1:08 a.m. CST

    So is there a sequel to Ninja Scroll?

    by Doc_Strange

    Basilisk could be worth a watch, however I'm waiting for the second coming of Robotech.

  • May 23, 2006, 3:03 a.m. CST

    it is MOEBIUS

    by talbuckin

  • May 23, 2006, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Thanks for being wordy...

    by Lain Of The Net

    One thing I really appreciate about Scott is the detail he goes into while reviewing a title. Sometimes when pondering a new purchase I find the information on other sites to be a bit thin or almost sterile. While some of these sites offer a lot of information (that in itself is appreciated) I find I am often left confused as to whether I want to have a look or not. Normally I would skip anything with "Chibi" in the title but the premise sounds hilarious... and I like stories from the vampire's point of view. So I might have a look. Little Deity - I am so there. I have enjoyed any type of anime that has the little gods or spirits that surround us. The idea of seeing what an old "media" god looks like is just sooo tempting. I have always been into the Gainax stuff (even though I have issues with Eva) and "This Ugly Yet Beautiful World" sounds like something I would like. Oh well I am looking forward to watching "Now and Then, Here and There" volume one later. I found the last two volumes used a week ago and spent some time hunting for the first one and only finding the box sets. Then I go into HMV on a whim and I get it for 12 loonies. Happiness at Least!

  • May 23, 2006, 12:03 p.m. CST

    PLAY! World Tour? Funny

    by nemesisdarkside

    The PLAY! Video Game Symphony is called a "World Tour" yet it just jumps between North America and 2 European countries. What about London? Why do we get passed over? I'd love to go to this. Oh well. Nice work as usual Scott.

  • May 23, 2006, 1:09 p.m. CST

    I want me some Robotech!

    by Johnno

    Plus I hear PLAY! is coming to Toronto... but WHEN???!!!! I need to see that!

  • May 23, 2006, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Doc_Strange

    by Johnno

    There is no sequel film to Ninja Scroll, however there is a 9 episode TV series that I believe does take place after it. Though the events in the first film play no significance, and overall, I didn't like it as much... It just doesn't hold a candle to Yoshiaki Kawajiri's original.

  • May 23, 2006, 1:13 p.m. CST

    ^ But it's understandable...

    by Johnno

    Seeing as how the TV series is made for TV audiences...

  • May 23, 2006, 1:50 p.m. CST

    re: Ninja Scroll Sequel

    by ScottGreen

    Yoshiaki Kawajiri was working on a sequel that was schedule for this year. Madhouse's card is pretty full for the year, so if it does happen, it's probably not around the corner. The TV series is more a super-hero work than the movie. There are a few good scenes that are as disturbing as the movie, but not many. TV series director Tatsuo Sato has a very odd resume http://tinyurl.com/r5blm and Ninja Scroll TV isn't one of his better works. If you enjoyed the movie and don't mind older anime, see Kawajiri's Wicked City, a very messed up work.

  • May 23, 2006, 3:33 p.m. CST

    let's be specific here...

    by v1cious

    Moe is an pathetic excuse for nerds to fantasze about banging little girls.

  • May 23, 2006, 8:52 p.m. CST

    re: moe

    by ScottGreen

    Not to defend moe, I'm not a fan of it, and while I don't feel as strongly as Sakamoto I think it not healthy and worse, leads to dull anime/manga, it's a bit more complex and as a anthropological phenomenon more interesting than that. There's an overlap, but meo isn't the same thing as "loli-con". Moe seems more about perceptions on an ideal and blocking out realities.

  • May 24, 2006, 2:26 a.m. CST

    Buso Renkin? And ... Dubocq interview

    by meersan

    Opinions on Buso Renkin? Seems to be somewhat popular but I haven't heard how it compares to other titles. Worth eventually picking up? Plot sounds somewhat complicated but I guess that's just par for the. ... That ActiveAnime interview made me laugh. Popularity is a two-edged sword, ne. These companies ride the wave of manic fan frenzy and do the touchdown shuffle when their product hits #29 on USA Today's bestseller list, yet they still take time out of their busy schedules to browbeat the exact same fans for being hyperzealous in acquiring the latest not-available-here releases. I guess it's the eternal debate, rationalizations are the name of the game on both sides. But, hey, I'm shelling out for the Naruto box set that isn't even out until July, the first 13 whole episodes, whoop de doo. God knows how many years it will take for the series to be dubbed and released in region 1, though I'll continue to happily shell out for whatever they're shoveling even though all I want is subtitles. Let's be serious, though obviously a flack in an interview isn't allowed to speak the honest truth. When a junkie needs a fix he isn't going to wait 3 years for some ridiculous release schedule. I have enormous respect for fan translators, but they would not exist if the industry actually responded to its customers. I guess the entire entertainment industry is equally fucked up in that regard; their credo is "the customer is always wrong". I'm begging you to let me give you my money, you flack! Ah well. Sorry for the rant.